Why doesn’t anyone want to be a cartoonist any more?
The English cartoonist believes that there is a lack of new blood in the industry that does not bode well for the future, we are a vanishing species and he lists what he believes could be the causes.
Although this isn’t the first tremendist text I’ve read on the subject of being a cartoonist, there is some truth in almost all of them. Some emblematic signatures in newspapers around the world have lost their jobs in the last few years (1) , (2), (3), (4).
Although it is also true that this is a recurring theme in our profession and previous generations also did it under a romantic and not very hopeful approach, predicting that this editorial vignetting this question under an approach that was as romantic as it was hopeless, predicting that editorial vignetting was dying without heirs.
Newman considers that cartoons are still very much “loved”, that they are tweeted, shared, posted on Instagram; they go viral, printed and stuck on fridges and that the kind of cartoons created by Sir Osbert Lancaster in the 1930s, remain a particularly British art form that is appreciated. Editors place topical jokes on the front pages of newspapers, a practice rarely seen in France, Germany or the United States.
Fierce competition, fewer spaces
In the face of their popularity, opportunities for the cartoonist have dwindled. Since the death of PunchThe main outlets for freelance cartoonists are Private Eye, The Spectator and The Oldie, and competition is fierce. Private Eye receives over 500 submissions per issue and publishes up to 50.
All newspapers used to have regular cartoonists, now only a few survive. In difficult times for print media, cartoonists are often the first to go. “Many of us lost our jobs when the closure was announced,” recalls Newman.
Too few pay too much, too many pay too little
Another problem is economic. Newman points out that“some publications have not raised their rates since before the fall of the Berlin Wall, while others pay as little as £50 a piece.
Compare that to the New Yorker, which reportedly pays between $700 and $1,400 per cartoon, depending on the seniority of the artist.”
“A British publisher once asked me, ‘If we pay more, will the jokes be funnier?’ I wish I had said yes.
It’s not all about money
For Newman, it’s not just money that deters new talent. There is also fear of failure. Rejection is a way of life even for experienced cartoonists and today’s “snowflakes” can’t take it.
“I recently encouraged a promising young cartoonist to try out for The Spectator, which he did with immediate success. Although I warned him: ‘You’ll be rejected. Everyone gets rejected. After two ‘no thanks’ problems, he stopped drawing cartoons.”
This way of working is not usual here; in Spain, each medium has its own cartoonists. In the vast majority of cases they are external“permanent”collaborators who work as freelancers without a signed commitment of permanence and as they don’t always manage to work for several media at the same time, when the media decides to do without them, they are left with their legs hanging down.
Read the full article.
The lack of new blood doesn’t bode well for the industry’s future. We are a vanishing species.
Cartoonists’ Exchange: How to make money with simple cartoons (1949)
There is a lot of money to be made drawing cartoons for huge markets, it is claimed in the Cartoonists ‘Exchange booklet How to make money with simple cartoons.